Devastating wildfires have blazed through Portugal, Canada, and Siberia this summer – with some people beginning to wonder if climate change will make such destructive fires normal. A new map from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) reveals a world filled with red. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Kevin Trenberth told DW, “A lot of these things are happening locally, but people don’t always connect them to climate change. But there is a real climate change component to this and the risk is going up because of climate change.”
NASA’s FIRMS Web Fire Mapper data from the last seven days, from August 14 to August 21, shown in the map above, reveals a world on fire. DW said Europe has experienced three times the average number of wildfires in summer 2017. Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Greece suffered from fire as heatwaves incited dry, hot conditions.
894,941 hectares have burned in Canada this season, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service – in the worst season for fires since we started keeping records. People in Portugal have especially suffered: earlier in the season 64 people perished and around 2,000 people were cut off by a recent blaze surrounding Macao.
Hundreds of homes were destroyed by wildfire in Siberia, and even Greenland saw a fire described as unprecedented. Some scientists are connecting these blazes to climate change, saying as temperatures rise, fires could occur more often. Trenberth told DW, “What’s really happening is that there is extra heat available. That heat has to go somewhere and some of it goes into raising temperatures. But the first thing that happens is that it goes into drying – it dries out plants and increases the risk of wildfires.”